Q: We have been looking at vacant land parcels without an agent. What type of representation do we need? Should we deal only with the seller’s agent or should we have our own real estate agent? Or, should we just have a real estate lawyer represent us?

A: I’m wondering why you’ve chosen to look for a property without the assistance of a qualified, knowledgeable real estate agent. Buyers do not generally pay for this assistance (to a great degree, the commission comes out of the seller’s pocket) and you will not necessarily pay more for the property. In fact, you might pay less.

If you work with the seller’s agent, you will have zero representation in this important transaction. There will be no one there to help you price out the property and figure out if you’re overpaying for the land.

If you choose not to hire an agent, then you should hire a real estate attorney to represent you personally in this deal. Otherwise, you’re at the mercy of the seller and that is simply not a position of strength. It’s not a place you’d want to be.

I’d suggest you hire the best agent you can find for the area and possibly a real estate attorney to help you make sure the deal runs the way it should. This way, you’ll be certain that at the very least the seller will provide you with all of the disclosures required under the law.

Aug. 13, 2004.